The online learning environment has become the new school for almost every student in most countries as a result of the current pandemic. Teachers have been trying to keep their students connected to the learning process, but it hasn’t been easy.
Since there are different needs in each household, teachers have to adapt to the new conditions and still be there for their students throughout the entire online learning journey. At every step of the way, they have to encourage students not to lose perspective when nobody can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Besides content and key concepts, teachers need to understand that students still require their presence and guidance. Without the learning environment that a classroom provides, with peers around and feedback at every moment, students need us to support them no matter what, to be aware of their needs, and to show them humanity.
The 5 Bs of online feedback
While there aren’t many differences between face-to-face feedback and online feedback in terms of purpose, it does ask of teachers to consider some aspects that might make the difference between goal achievement and quitting altogether when the going gets tough.
Last time we explored a few tips on how to give feedback to students in the online learning environment. Now let’s move on to what I like to call the Bs of online feedback, that every teacher should know. Here they are:
Let your students know that this new way of schooling has affected you as well and you do understand their situation (which can be different from student to student), but also make sure they understand your teaching requirements. They have to know from the beginning what the learning goals are so that they can have a clear picture of where they stand in their learning process.
In this respect, you can give them some guidelines to follow to facilitate their success. This means that they will know what is expected of them and what to do to achieve the goals you’ve set for them. Using this approach, you will reinforce your students’ motivation and engagement.
To make sure your feedback has the resonance you expect, it has to be given in 24-48 hours from the moment your students submit their work or right away if you use video conferencing.
Providing feedback in a timely manner, when the student needs it the most, is essential. Not only do students benefit more from the feedback, but they also remember their work better and can understand and apply the suggestions you give.
This is how feedback becomes a turning point for every student, fixing and filling the gaps instantly in their acquisition as soon as possible. It takes a little extra effort on your part, but it will show students you care about their evolution.
As teachers, we want our students to be engaged and motivated at all times, but we have to remember that they rely on our feedback to be just that. If we set different goals and tasks which we expect to be reached by our students then we have to be consistent in our feedback delivery.
Students are good at mimicking behavior and through your positive example, while giving feedback after every task, you will manage to trigger a similar response from your students. They will not miss a deadline, they will create a routine and self-discipline their learning process.
Although you are instructing your students online, you can still be human. Use their name when commenting on their individual progress, not only in online meetings. In this way, you personalize the feedback you provide and it doesn’t feel given by a robot-like being, especially in written format.
As a result, your students will perceive you as a real person, their teacher, and will be willing to give their all to perform better and better.
Feedback is supposed to be constructive. To be able to do this, you need to choose your words wisely and be concise. Furthermore, emphasize what students were able to achieve and then discuss what they need to improve. You should also include only one or two issues to tackle in one feedback session.
This will make your feedback actionable and relevant. Moreover, underlining the positive rather than the negative aspects of your students’ performance will make them more motivated and engaged and if done in the presence of other students, it will not discourage them.
The online learning environment has provided us with a safety net for education in these challenging times. But we shouldn’t forget that behind those screens we face every day are human beings, with struggles of their own. That is why we have to lead by example and be consistent in what we do, especially when it comes to giving feedback, which ultimately is our homework. Students will value our prompt and kind feedback and they will do their best not to miss a deadline while they treat themselves with the same consideration we showed them.
So, teachers around the world, feedback is your superpower – use it wisely! For more e-learning tips, don’t forget to keep an eye on our blog!
Diana has been a teacher for over 10 years. She writes about finding that perfect balance between the same old teaching strategies and the ever changing tools.